Collective near-field coupling and nonlocal phenomena in infrared-phononic metasurfaces for nano-light canalization

P. Li, G. Hu, I. Dolado, M. Tymchenko, C.-W. Qiu, F. J. Alfaro-Mozaz, F. Casanova, L. E. Hueso, S. Liu, J. H. Edgar, S. Vélez, A. Alu and Rainer Hillenbrand

Nature Communications 11, 3663 (2020)
Polaritons – coupled excitations of photons and dipolar matter excitations – can propagate along anisotropic metasurfaces with either hyperbolic or elliptical dispersion. At the transition from hyperbolic to elliptical dispersion (corresponding to a topological transition), various intriguing phenomena are found, such as an enhancement of the photonic density of states, polariton canalization and hyperlensing. Here, we investigate theoretically and experimentally the topological transition, the polaritonic coupling and the strong nonlocal response in a uniaxial infrared-phononic metasurface, a grating of hexagonal boron nitride (hBN) nanoribbons. By hyperspectral infrared nanoimaging, we observe a synthetic transverse optical phonon resonance (strong collective near-field coupling of the nanoribbons) in the middle of the hBN Reststrahlen band, yielding a topological transition from hyperbolic to elliptical dispersion. We further visualize and characterize the spatial evolution of a deeply subwavelength canalization mode near the transition frequency, which is a collimated polariton that is the basis for hyperlensing and diffraction-less propagation.